tv Face the Nation CBS November 25, 2012 5:00pm-5:30pm PST
got smee mee some really good ones this year. the first written by gillian flynn, whose psychological thriller "gone girl," headache at the top of the bestseller list fair long, long time. chris pavone, the first-time fiction author of "the expats," a timely tale of intrigue involving a c.i.a. operative. alex stone who has a masters degree in physics and decided instead to become a magician because i believe you wrote, "it makes you be less a nerd," which is always a good ambition. his book is "fooling houdini." and the ever-reliable dan balz, who is back with more tealz of army special agent john fuller for his 25th novel "the forgotten." gillian, i want to start with you. just a masterpiece of writing, your book. i don't want to give away too much of it. so i'll let you tell us. but it is the story-- it is a thriller but it's told in a very unusual way, and basically, it's about trust in a marge that sort
of went wrong. >> it's about nick and amy dunn. they're a married couple, and amy goes missing on her five-year anniversary, and it starts with that very basic premise, but the story is told as kind of a he said/she said sort of story. so it's told from nick's point of view, on the day she goes missing and as he quickly starts to become a person of interest, we don't know where amy is and what happened to her. and through amy, through diary entries from the first days of their courtship to the days she's missing, and we come to quickly understand these two not entirely reliable narrator, and you're going to have to sift through and decide who to believe. >> schieffer: that was the part of the book. who am i pulling for in this book as it unfolds. why do you think it was so popular? it went right to the top. >> it's a twisting mystery, but it also has a basis, kind of gender relationes, long-term relationshipes, and there are a
lot of things that people can kind of connect, to the different power plays that i think we have in long-term relationships and the give-any-take of a marriage, and i think people can-- whether or not they really relate to them entirely, i hope not, but i think that everyone can see a little bit of themselveses in that marriage. >> schieffer: and, chris, your book, it is also about a marriage, and it's basically a couple that gets transferred, the husband gets transferred to europe, to luxembourg, and the wife, it turns out-- i'm not giving anything away here because early on we find out she's not just the stay-at-home mom. he's actually a c.i.a. agent. and i must say, as i read your book, and both my older daughter and i both thought in the beginning it had been written by a woman. and i wonder, how are you able to transpose yourself, as it were? >> i don't think i can transpose myself into a woman, but i did manage to transpose myself into
somebody with a job who went to an office every day and put on a tie and sat in meetings with grown-ups, and did all the stuff that you do when you're out in the business world to being somebody who all of a sudden at age 40 is at home with with small children cooking and cleaning and bored to death. and i happen to be doing this in luxembourg for the first time in my life, not living in new york city, not working, but taking care of my four-year-old children, while my wife works an insane job of 70-hour weeks and traveling all over the place. and i was-- i was at home with a washing machine that was in german and a stove in german. and i spoke no german. and so i used this thing called intensiveness because it sound trike had a lot of exclamation points. and i burned everything. and i had to become a new person who knew how to use a stove in german, knew how to spend my days on the floor with the
children playing leg organization buying butcher cuts in french. and being a stay-at-home parent. and i don't think i ever approached being a woman, but this-- in luxembourg, 99% of the people doing this were women, and i was a lone man in this world surround by women. >> schieffer: my daughter said you did the best job and had the most insight into what a mom does while dad is off doing whatever it is he does. and i think that's part of the success of your book. but we'll get back to that. it was also-- it was very suspenseful. and it was quite a thriller. now, dan bal david baldacci, this is your-- >> my 25th. somebody told me the other day. i had not counted the books. when they said it i was surprised. >> schieffer: 25 books you have done. and i'm old enough to remember when you were a lawyer here in washington, and one of my best friends was your law partner in that old law firm.
how did you get into this? i mean, what-- >> i had been writing since i was a kid. i was trying to sell short stories to the "new yorker" when i was 14 and realized if i changed my name to j.d. salinger my odds would be considerably improved. i spent 10 years writing short stories, that's what i really love to do. and i liked to read short stories in high school and college but i had no success doing that. i had a family early on, and it was something i kept doing. i went into screen play writing for a while and got an agent in hollywood which is almost impossible because most agents in hollywood i met don't know there is a state called virginia. they don't think anything exists owz of california. and i started writing my first novel "absolute power," and that kind of changed my life. i thought it would be the novel that would get the attention of an agent, and it was the big break i needed. >> schieffer: that later
became a movie. >> it did become a movie. it was a movie where the main character of the novel makes no appearance at all in the film. and that was because clint eastwood starred in it and he also directed. in hollywood, the director controls everything. and the screen writer who won a couple of academy awards, but still he's just a screenwriter. but so his job was to make clint eastwood's character-- who dies halfway through the novel-- surexprief also be the hero. bill finally came to his wit's expend couldn't do it and he called me up saying do you want to have a shot of it? i said, no, i spent three years killing the man and they're paying you, not me. he brought in another screenwrites to bring eastwood in. i thought the first act was terrific and the rest of it is okay glefd now clint eastwood takes parts in plays where there are imaginary characters. >> there were no empty chairs in
"absolute power yes that i recall. >> schieffer: and now we come to alex. i have to say of all the books i read this year, yours was funniest. and you're not a fiction writer. i put you here because your book reads like fiction, from time to time, and i do have to wonder if you made up parts of it along the way, like magicians doll, but i'm sure you didn't. the kinds of books i really like to read for pleasure are the ones where you read a couple of pages, and at first you say, "why in the world would anybody write a book about this particular subject?" and then you get into it. that's exactly what i said about your book. and then about two pages in, i was totally hooked. from every page on, i found something to laugh about, or something where i'd say, "i didn't know." know. that." tell us about the whole journey of magic. you said you didn't want to be to be a nerd and started learning magic.
>> i started doing magic when i was five years old. my first gig was my own sixth birthday party which went horrible, terribliy. they heckled me. and then years later, i went to new york-- i moved to new york. whole subculture of magic and magicians. and this was a world of secret societies and bizarre rituals and it was a place where people hung out in the backs of diners, and pizzerias, and studied with old masters. there were tournaments and can there is even a magic olympics which takes place every three years, which just happened this summer, in glrngd right before the non-magic olympics. and i became entranced with this world and the peeled in it. i think it was probably fueled my fascination even further was that i found there are all these connection betweens magic and psychology and neuroscience and physics and math and scambling and crime. and i have a science background. so that was pretty interesting, i thought.
the magic shows us a lot of the ways in which we can be deceived rather easily. >> schieffer: but we should add to this, you were planning to be-- to get a ph.d. in physics and you decide instead-- >> also to be less nerdy. >> schieffer: less thirdy. are you happy? >> yeah, well, sure pim happy, but but i do think things like magic and physics are. kind of related in that they're nerds playing god with the universe in a way. and magic is special. it's kindsave way of hiding in the spotlight. you can perform and seem extroverted but you're also withholding information. >> schieffer: to me-- and i say every page of your book i found something else to blawfd-- you went out and visited this card shark-- not shark, i guess mechanic. >> yeah, card shark-- >> schieffer: who is better at manipulating cards than anyone, and he's blind. how can that be?
>> it's unbelievable. his name is richard tunneler, he lives in texas, san antonio. he lost his vision-- or began to lose his vision pretty early in life when he was eight and he is the greatest card manipulator in the world. he specializes in dealing from the bottom of the deck or second from the top. he can do unbelievable things. you can give him two decks of cards, put them side by side and say 19 and 23, and he'll reach out of over and pick off exactly 19 cards and 23 cards from the top of each deck. and he does it all by touch. i spent a lot of time talking to him and him, does your blindness hinder you? and he said, no, it's a gift. this led me to think a lot about this idea that went-- when one sense is cut off from the worked, other parts of our brain rallied to the task of comp saying the. there's fascinating scientific literature of how blind musicians have perfect pitch-- >> schieffer: i'm going to get
you too do a trick for us, if you will. gillian, as i was reading your book, as i was reading chris' obamacare david's obamacare it chris book, david's book, it's all about trust, all about intrigue. it seems to me, what we're seeing right now in washington, is there a book there. i think david said he hoped nobody ever delved into any of this. he didn't think it was something we ought to be. what is the fascination with the c.i.a.? you all-- you do especially, chris, and gillian, you have the police in there. i mean, your book is kind of a police procedural in some ways, but yet it's not. it's also very dark. what was the appeal there. >> i think we do get attractd to the big chas big cases we can look at and unpack and figure out what that means for our relationships and our lives and i think that's why we're interested in true crime and these true cases because you
do-- everyone does wonder what happens behind other people's doors and other people's marriages. and certainly my book is partly no one knows what happens behind other people's doors, and also, do you really know what happens behind your own doors? >> schieffer: and that also promptaise question-- my friend sandra brown, who writes these thrillers, and they're very steamy. and her husband's always her first editor. and she talked about one time she had written this book and he looked down and looked up at her and said, "when did we ever do that?" so when i'm residenting your book, i have to ask, is there anything about you in this book, or is this totally made up? >> thank goodness, no. it really eye mean-- i mean, i am married so i do understand kind of the dynamics of marriage, certainly, but my-- i'm lucky to have a husband who loves writers and loves reading, and he said, you know, i told him one day, "you know, honey, i'm going to delve into the darkest most toxic aspect of
marriage. is that cool you?" and he said,un, "go for it. don't censor yourself." and he is my first and best reader. and he put it down and said, whooo! this is dark." >> schieffer: has he ever expressed fear? >> he sleeps like this next to me, one eye open. >> schieffer: and how about you, chris? how much of your book-- you talked about how you were the spouse at home while your wife workedes, while you were in europe. but beyond that, you get very deeply into the c.i.a. and things like that. does any of that come from personal experience? >> no, none at all. i-- most of the "the expats" is really a story about a marriage ba woman who used to be something else, who no longer is, about a marriage under the strain of this move in this part of life. that's the book i was writing for a few months. and it was a very honest and personal book. it was about the life i was living, people who surrounded me, what it's like to be an
expat, what luxembourg was like. after writing that book for a couple months, still with a lot of very, very boring stuff about day-to-day boring life. i realized i was writing a boring book. and i didn't want to write a boring book and cast around for things to add for elements to layer on top of this generally real story to make it less boring. and attended up being a spy element as well as some-- >> schieffer: you're telling me this is not book you started out to road to write. >> it's not. but i upo still think the book i started out to write is still there. it is mostly a book about a marriage and a book about a woman who is trying to become-- trying to redefine herself as something in the middle of her life, and trying to run away from the things she's ashamed of about her past, and trying to create something new for the future. and you don't have to read the book entirely close to see that the number of paragraphs devoted to the c.i.a. is probably-- can
probably be count one hand. it's not primarily a spy book. it just is in a spy world. >> schieffer: david, why did you say-- i heard you on television the other day say that you didn't-- you hoped there weren't any books based on what's been going on in washington lately. >> i just hope novelists are better than that, come up with new material, and give it a fresh spin. i certainly have-- i live and work in virginia. i look across the river every day, and there's tons of ideas that happen from washington, d.c. i've always had a problem with authority. and with sort of questioning leadership and orders coming down. a lot of my books have those themes in there, and when i wrote "zero day" i really set myself up fair challenge because he's in the army, which is probably the greatest leadership vehicle ever invented, and orders are to be not thought about but followed and executed upon. and i put a guy in there who really didn't want to do that at the end of the day and he
started to question himself which made him think he wasn't a good viable soldier anymore. to do that, i try to do a lot of research. i went down to fort bening where the rangers train. i went down for three days with these guys doing stuff i never want to do again and got my butt kicked. but to listen to stories about an 18-year-old kid who just signed up. the way the army is set up today, you get in there. you get your basic training, which is 12 weeks. if you want four more weeks of specialized training, you get it, and the very next day you are on the plane to afghanistan and be in harm's way and so that's a big deal for a young kid to make that commitment. if you write a book and fill it with all your research it's going to be a really, really boring book, and you have to have sort of the courage to leave most of it on the cutting room floor, and include just enough in the story to make it viable. >> schieffer: you know, it sounds very much like advice i give young journalists when they're having a hard time writing the story i say you haven't done enough reporting.
you need to go back and do more reporting and that sounds like that's what makes your book successful. we're going to take a break and when we come back, alex is going to show us some magic. of tabl. it's changing the conversation. ♪ you have a plan? first we're gonna check our bags for free, thanks to our explorer card. then, the united club. my mother was so wrong about you. next, we get priority boarding on our flight i booked with miles. all because of the card. and me. okay, what's the plan? plan? mm-hmm. we're on vacation. there is no plan. really? [ male announcer ] the united mileageplus explorer card. the mileage card with special perks on united. get it and you're in.
>> schieffer: we're back now with our authors. it wouldn't be fair to have a magician or someone who has written a book about magic without asking to do a couple of tricks. show us one of your favorites. >> okay. let's see here. i just want you to think of a card. >> schieffer: okay. >> any card. it doesn't matter what. >> schieffer: okay. >> and just name it out loud. >> schieffer: i can say it now? >> say it out loud. >> schieffer: 6 of heart. >> any particular reason you thought of the 6 of heart? >> schieffer: no. >> just came to mind. >> schieffer: yes. >> bob would you do me a favor and cut the deck exactly in half. exactly in half. >> schieffer: all right, there you go. >> now, that's not the 6 of heart right? >> schieffer: no. >> and that's not 6 of heart? >> schieffer: no. >> but i bet if you used your
imagination you could convince yourself that this card or any card is the 6 of the heart. just imagine in fact this is the 6 of heart. >> schieffer: another i'm thinking. >> ready? watch. here we go. ( laughs ). >> schieffer: how did you do that? >> i'll tell you what, the 6 in big letters across the face of the deck, big, big, letters so we can see. >> schieffer: i'll just put bob. >> maybe i have more than one 6 of heart. it's not that i would ever cheat or anything, but clearly this is the only one with your signature on it. pick up half the deck, rolf. it doesn't have to be exact. put the cards on top of the 6, and push the 6 all the way into the deck. this is the trick that fooled houdini or a version of it-- which is the title of the book. all i have to do is do that,
snap my fingers, and the 6 rises from the middle of the deck all the way up to the top of the deck. ( laughs ) i'll show you one more time. >> schieffer: okay. >> now that's your signature, right? >> schieffer: right. >> i can't fake that, right? so it goes in the middle of these cards eye don't know, that's maybe 20 or so. and it goes into the middle of these cards like that. this is a phenomenon in quantum physices, known as quantum tunneling. quantum physics particles can tunnel through barriers. look at that. see. i'm kind of lying to you. it's not that the card-- it's not that the card actually rises to the top. it's whatever card happens to be on top suddenly changes into the 6. > 6. >> schieffer: oh, i see. ( laughs ) anybody want to top that now? who wants to follow that? >> you know, sometimes they bend the card, put a crimp in the
card. so that you can identify the card from the front as well as from the back. sometimes they call it a breather. if i put a bend in the card you can see it from the back. you can tell where it is. and that means you will be able it see the exact moment when it rises to the top. watch here. 1, 2, 3. ( laughs ) >> schieffer: this is unbelievable. funniest book i've read. i want to thank all of you for being with us today. it was really, really fun. and i hope you sell a million books, all of you, because i love books and they bring so much pleasure. it was just a real pleasure to have each and every one were us with you today. >> thank you. >> schieffer: thank you, sir. we'll be right back.
4th has its fireworks, but we celebrate thanksgiving by indulging our secret pleasure of doing what we shouldn't-- having a second helping. thanksgiving is not about someone or something else. it's about family and being together, and if you're lucky like me, that includes the grand kids. like an aircraft carry they're leaves port only when surround by smaller ships, thanksgiving is the only holiday that arrives with a flotilla of smaller holidays that are observed with the same discipline and ritual. wednesday has become getaway day, the busiest travel day of the year. friday is leftover day for the stay-at-homes and black friday for the shoppers. and then there is today, sunday, when millions sigh and say of their visitors, we love them, but thank goodness they are finally out of here. how to celebrate that? well, go to the fridge right now, and see if there is enough turkey left to make a little turkey soup. it's great on a cold night.
,,,, the holidays can be an especially difficult time. everything's different now. sometimes i feel all alone. christmas used to be my favorite. i just don't expect anything. what if santa can't find me? to help, sleep train is holding a secret santa toy drive. bring your gift to any sleep train, and help keep the spirit of the holidays alive.
not everyone can be a foster parent, but anyone can help a foster child. >> schieffer: well, that's it for us today. i hope you had a happy thanksgiving. we'll be back right here next week on "face the nation." hope you'll join us. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org ,,,,,,,,